He was winning,
but he didn't see it
and I escaped - as usual.

-Levon Aronian


By drunknknite

I woke up around 8 for the 10am start to Round 3. Satisfied with my performance thus far but itching for a kill. Had a great breakfast, showed up a little early and got to do a belated postmortem with Pupols which was very cool. The pairings were up when I got there and I was due to play White for the second time in a row against a low rated expert. I showed up to the board a couple minutes after the round started, he wasn't there yet, set up my clock and moved 1.e4. He showed up after a few minutes and opened 1...c5. I played 2.Nf3 and he played 2...d6. Nowhere to run now... he gets to pick his poison but I'm strong in all of the 5 options after 3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3. When he played 5...a6 and introduced a Najdorf I was feeling good. I played my 6.Bg5 and went downstairs to buy an Arizona Green Tea [a staple this tournament], which I was drinking during my turnaround in Round 2 after I got frustrated with the position and the small cups we were supposed to be drinking water out of. Even though I was ready to rattle off the next 6-7 moves he seemed pensive and I decided to take some time and calm down a little bit.

The game is here.

I had used 12 minutes to get to move 15 when I play Nd5. At this point he took over 40 minutes to play the forced exd5. It must have been brutal to be on the Black side of this mess.

As for me, right after I played Nd5 I went to my friend and said 'check out my game, it's over already'. From there I just converted what was a huge advantage. There were some semi-interesting lines towards the end for him but pretty much he was hoping for some kind of miracle.

So I was undefeated with 2 points through the first 3 rounds. And in the evening I was going to face a much stronger player....



A Little Freaked Out

By drunknknite

This is Round 2. My first shot at a master. Apparently he is a legend in the Seattle chess scene. His name is Viktors Pupols. I played the opening terribly. Then recovered well and had a better game until he forced a draw. This game is probably the least eventful of the bunch.

Surprise! I'm hosting the game here.

Hope you like the format, I like it much better but it was a little tedious to get it to work. Still not that bad, if anyone wants tips let me know.

This was my first result against a master. This game is also very significant because it guaranteed that I would earn a FIDE norm. In order to get a FIDE rating you must play 3 FIDE rated players and earn 1 point out of 3. Then you must complete 6 more games (I read on the comments to one of iw's posts that you then have to score .5 out of your next 3, but I have not found this anywhere else). So I have 6 after this tournament but if I hadn't scored 1 point in my first three I don't think they would have counted. I'm not entirely sure of the rules but it's not that important since I fit all of the above criteria I just need 3 more games.

I was very happy with my 2 draws, even though I hate draws. It was a good way to start the tournament. I didn't really know what to expect for Round 3 the next morning. I figured I probably wouldn't necessarily play a stronger player and that I might get an easier game. Guess you're going to have to wait until tomorrow to find out...




By drunknknite

This is the Round 1 game. It looks like I'm letting White walk all over me but then it goes crazy.

I was surpised to find how many mistakes we each made. I did not know there were wins for White hanging around. My opponent was shocked by Nc2 and this is probably why he could not find the best lines. I'll take it....



Quick Summary

By drunknknite

So I have a lot of work ahead of me to get these 6 games published since I'm used to only having to do one a week. But I thought I'd give you guys a quick rundown of how the tournament went.

First of all unfortunately I did not beat a master. I did draw one though, I obtained a winning position and he bailed out and found a perpetual. I scored 3/6, which isn't bad (I wasn't really sure what to expect from this tournament and I'm satisfied with the score), with a 2100+ performance. It was a good outing for me.

As has become typical of 3-day tournaments, I had one REALLY BAD game. Where I just dropped a piece and it wasn't interesting at all. So that was a little disappointing. It is always in the lull before a fight really begins when I think nothing's going on and get careless. I should be able to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

I got 4 whites (although one of them was wasted by dropping that bishop). In 2 of the others I won very quickly, gaining a huge advantage in the opening. I'm definitely not switching to 1.d4 anytime soon. And in the third I played horribly out of the opening but then got back into the game and drew (that was against the master).

My other loss came against NM Michael Aigner (fpawn). He's a good player, although I made such a stupid mistake. This was literally my thought process.

If I play Nc8 he will probably just take my knight with his bishop and then I'm left with a very difficult game with a bad bishop against good knight. Then again maybe he won't take it...

...Nc8 Bxc8


Such a rookie error. Just hoping for an implausible outcome.

So there were two wins that were basically effortless, two losses, the draw against the master, and then another draw that was INSANE. In the first round, I was playing a 2145 and I found some very nice moves and the tension builds and builds until we are practically forced to repeat because if either of us tries to win it looks like we will lose. It's a very cool game.

This tournament was a lot more fun than LA for me. I knew a lot more people and of course playing better helped. I had the privilege of meeting chessloser and he is awesome. I only left the venue to eat and sleep, I enjoyed having a lot of players around and all the chess action. Makes me want to study more.

It was a weird feeling playing this section. I had become so used to playing in the middle sections and looking up in awe of the open section and in the game against Aigner I was on board 10 of the entire tournament. It was cool.

The funniest thing about this tournament was the play of Michael Taylor, who is a strong A player. My only loss in the Western States was to him when I dropped a piece in 12 moves and resigned. Like I said, it is typical for me to have one horrible game (see Oops. for my brilliancy in LA). He had 1/3 and was frustrated with how things were going so he says: Next game I'm going to play e3, Ke2, Kf3. So he does. And when I finally look at the position he is just completely winning, although he ended up with a draw. I wasn't that surprised since he always plays lame openings just to outplay opponents in the middlegame but damn. So then he decides to play e6 Ke7 next game with Black. And he WINS! So then in the last game he plays e3 again, and wins again! So he scored 2.5/3 with e3 Ke2 (e6 Ke7) in the A section. This is a great anecdote that proves how absurd it is to base your result on how the opening of the game goes. He let his opponent have several moves, didn't castle, didn't develop pieces, and still had a good game.

I might end up taking a break from chess study because I want to take the GMAT but hopefully I don't have to study that much for it, it seems like it's going to be easy. I have to get it out of the way before I apply for JD/MBA programs during the fall.



Win at All Costs

By drunknknite

Going into the weekend with posts like chessloser's hanging around I figured I would share some thoughts about tournament play.

I am aware that there are people out there who just go to tournaments to enjoy themselves and get some good chess in. I respect that, but that is not what I go to a tournament for. I think this is what really got to me in LA. I don't play well if I'm not in the running for first. As soon as I cannot win the tournament I am depressed. Even a top 10 finish has been known to disappoint me. I'm sure that I've won money in more tournaments than I haven't, even if it wasn't enough to recoup the entry fee it was enough to feel like I played well.

I play to win. Every game, every move I'm thinking about winning. I hate draws and will lose games trying to at least create problems for my opponent. Although more recently I find drawing lost games as quite an accomplishment and I'm enjoying that.

People like me often get criticized because all we think about is our rating, but in reality all I think about is winning. My rating is just coming along for the ride, a good indicator of how much I've won. How good I've actually played. I used to think that I was stronger than my rating, but I'm not. No one is. Every point is earned.

The way I've kept my rating going up is by consistently outperforming my rating tournament after tournament, game after game. This makes me think about the meaning of chess improvement.

I've tried through my experience to gain almost exclusively practical knowledge. Knowledge that would help me win games. Not knowledge that enhances my appreciation for the game, but knowledge that in my hands would be deadly. I aim only to create at the board. To find outlandish continuations that must be checked and rechecked but cannot be resolved without actually entering into them. And this is where we fight. On the edge of a cliff.

I've never played a master before. Tomorrow I will very likely encounter one. Or the next day. The first time that I can remember playing an expert was when I played David Ryba in the Hot August Knights tournaments at Jerry Weikel's house when I was 16. I beat him with a 4 or 5 move combination that I just happened to spot, I was so happy. Then Jerry crushed me the next round. I wonder if I can find those games. Ever since that day I was never afraid to play with an expert, cause I figured I could keep up.

From all the dropped pieces, missed mates, lost endings, failed openings I began to catch on at some point, and I realized other players must be making the same mistakes. Now at a higher level for some reason I started to forget that. I started thinking about how I used to look up to these players as where I should be and now I'm here and I'm scared.

But I think that's good. A lot of times when I think that a player does not have a good chance of beating me I get cocky. I make mistakes. I get careless. If your rating is over 2200 I am going to be SHARP. I am going to play hard, block the world out, just like I did 6 years ago against Ryba when he was 600 points my senior. Now there are only a couple players at the tournament that are that much better than me.

I very rarely find a way to put my best game on display but when I do I play very strong chess. I've been beating experts for long enough. I want to win this tournament 2000-2199 and I want some master scalps.



I Ain't Afraid of No Ghosts

By drunknknite

This is the game that put me over 2000 for the first (and hopefully last) time. My Slav has been getting beaten up online and I was starting to feel uncomfortable in a lot of the positions. I decided during the day of this game to go back to my old move order and build a solid understanding of the theory surrounding the [Shoemaker's quotes] "pawn wedge" system (it's from the Kaufman book Chess Advantage in Black and White). I had been favoring the Slav because I didn't want to face the 'scary' Marshall Gambit. But I don't like the non-Semi Slavs, and by holding back the c pawn I retain the option of playing c5 and transposing into a Tarrasch Defense against certain lines.

The last time I decided to play this move order I dropped my queen. That was a bad experience. But after the game when I was looking at the Marshall I decided that it is definitely playable for Black. So I wasn't too disappointed to see Shoemaker offer it. I was even excited when he offered the exchange and another pawn to commit to an all out offensive. To draw Shoemaker into a gunslinging tactical battle is exactly what I wanted. There are many boring positional games that he could have chosen where I would be more prone to err. The game he chose was practically suicidal.

I went back to the Chess Publisher format at Chessaholic's request.

After the game Chris Harrington called me lucky, Shoemaker says he lost a won game. I've talked on this blog a lot about how the evaluation of the position is not necessarily the most important factor of the position. How both players will make mistakes and this is what's important. I spend a lot of the time trying to get to the bottom of things once the game is done. But during the game the 'truth' is of little importance. We both missed chances to win. We both made mistakes. Luck had nothing to do with it.



It's Official! I'm an Expert!!

By drunknknite

I broke the 2000 barrier last night!! In a wild game against Eric Shoemaker I made a horrible blunder and was in danger of falling behind in the game, but luckily Shoemaker blundered back and I won the "Club Championship Warmup" aka Pointless Tournament, with a perfect score of 3/3. It was essentially a RR between George Fischer, Nathaniel Garingo, Shoemaker, and I.

My rating should be 2005. Fucking sweet.

Update: 2020 on the May supplement.




By drunknknite

I have wanted to attempt to play the Najdorf as Black for some time. Watching Morelia-Linares has just added to my appreciation for this deep and complex opening. Recently I have started throwing it out in some blitz games, even at the club revealing parts of my preparation. It's fun, no doubt about that. Last night I went to Borders before the club because Chris Harrington and Nate Garingo often are there before they go to the club and I wanted to hang out for a bit. So Garingo and I end up playing blitz and I was playing the Najdorf every opportunity with Black, he was playing the English Attack (6.Be3) and I was getting good positions. But I knew from his games with Fischer that he plays 6.f4. Anyways Garingo and I were slated to play at the club and I was getting Black. I had considered looking over some analysis in the Najdorf before going to the club but I had decided to play my Accelerated Dragon instead. At the board, around move 2, I changed my mind and played d6....

So this is where we start. Before I get into the game, I think this is a good time to talk about Nate Garingo. I moved back to Reno in mid-July and immediately started attending the Reno Chess Club every Thursday, Garingo showed up at the club the same Thursday to play his first game at our club. He was sporting a 2170 provisional rating and he played my kind of chess. Attacking chess, a strong knowledge of theory, highly tactical, basically just pure excitement on the board. Anyways so we rattle off three straight wins in three straight weeks and then we were due to face each other for the first time. I had Black (the game last night is the fourth time I have had Black in a rated game against him, I have had White once). I played some very provocative moves but actually found a pretty equal position where things were going to settle down. At this point he decided to sacrifice a piece, it didn't look so bad and I was a little intimidated (I definitely have to post this game soon). Anyways I put up a very stubborn defense and won the game. Our next game, I was Black again and he crushed me in the Maroczy, this game is in the Reno Chess Archives but I will probably also publish this eventually. I think we definitely have a lot in common and we play with a similar style, so there is a mutual respect. I had to earn it by winning the next two games, but nonetheless. We also consistently show up and demonstrate a love for the game that it seems like some of the other strong players in the area are lacking due to their absence. Anyways, coming into this game I was 3-1 against him in rated games and had also swindled an exhibition game so I was expecting a tough bout.

Now let's talk about the game. The moves so far were:

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6!?

I don't think I've ever played this d6 before in a rated game. Maybe when I was much younger. I picked up the book Accelerated Dragons at the Western States when I was 13 or 14 and I have played this opening ever since (It starts 2...Nc6, more information here). Every opportunity, sometimes 3 times in one tournament, this opening is my bread and butter. Recently my results in this opening have been only so-so however, so I changed my approach and I wanted to play the new line, but I'm saving it for the Club Championship. So then I was thinking maybe just go into the Maroczy and play my little heart out but this seemed like such a waste. This tournament is completely pointless (there are only 4 players) and he is rated above me so nothing to lose right? So I played this move and I could tell it caught him off guard a bit.

He looked at this position for a few minutes, as if he was going to reject my challenge and go into some Anti-Sicilian, so I got up and walked around and then we fired off the next few moves.

3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3

Black has five very popular options here: 5...Nc6 is the Classical Sicilian, 5...e6 is the Scheveningen, 5...e5 is the Sveshnikov, 5...g6 is the Dragon, and 5...a6 is the Najdorf. I feigned at the g pawn (the dragon is Garingo's opening) just to see how he would react. Then I grabbed the a pawn and hoped for the best.

5...a6 6.f4

6.f4 is a sideline, but it still packs a punch. Garingo has been having no problem against Fischer's Najdorf with this line although Fischer plays 6...g6 at this point which seemed to me to be inconsistent. I wanted to discuss a different topic and see how Garingo handled himself. At this point Black's most common moves are 6...e6 and 6...e5 and I had looked at them both about a month ago when I was thinking about taking this up against Garingo specifically. If Black plays 6...e6 then White can immediately play 7.a4 and prevent 7...b5. Then the b pawn should go to b6 and Black gets a hedgehog formation. This is absolutely playable for Black but I wanted to keep things in the style of the pure Najdorf so I chose the other option.

6...e5 7.Nf3 Qc7 8.Bd3 Be6?!

I think I misplaced the bishop here. Because White has left out a4 I could play b5 intending Bb7 here and I think this is the way to play. I have been so used to seeing the English attack with the pawn on f3 when the Bishop goes to e6. But with the pawn on f4 the e4 pawn is already feeling weak, and the Bishop on b7 puts additional pressure on the weakness.

9.0-0 Nbd7 10.a4 Be7 11.Kh1 0-0 12.Qe1

This position has actually been played some 20 times in my database. Black has for the most part stuck to the plan of Re8 with Bf8, something I was only able to spot after it was provoked by White's next move. I was a little lost here, I didn't really have any good ideas. I noticed earlier that I could play Bc4 if White tried to trap the Bishop with f5, and I started thinking maybe of plans with b5 so I played:

12...Bc4 which has been played one time in my database quite unsuccessfully.

One of the ideas here was something like ...b5 ab ab Nb5 Bb5 Bb5 Qc2 keeping material level and adding pressure from the queen on e4, it is a very strong idea in case of a move like Be3. Of course White doesn't have to capture the pawn on b5 in this case but I thought b5 was important. Also maybe trading on d3 and f4 and bringing a knight to c5 or e5 (or both) and putting pressure on the weak pawn. Then I started to realize that the d3 pawn could go to d4 and this would be bad. So really this move was pretty pointless as you will see. Nathaniel was up to the task.


Exploiting my Bishop's absence from e6, the knight heads to f5, I must regroup to maintain the dark squared Bishop, a key defensive piece.

13...Rfe8 14.Nf5 Bf8

So White has succeeded in getting his knight to f5 and now must decide how to increase the pressure.


White makes it clear that his intention is to attack on the h file. This is a little bit intimidating, he's going for Rh3, Qh4 and then opening the center and mate. But this move is slow, Fritz gives a few alternatives that may promise White a slight pull into the late middlegame.

For instance 15.fe. I almost certainly would have taken back with the knight, which is the worse option. This would allow White to exert pressure on the center of the board and build up a lot of strength. In any case it is not as if there is one crushing move here for White. He must continue to build and a mistake from either side will drastically change the evaluation.


I was very happy with this move. I was looking at a few options, there are other good options too, but I think that this is my favorite. Simply retreating the Bishop from it's failed expedition and threatening to exchange White's pieces on the kingside, which would weaken the attack. It's just such an awkward move, you wouldn't think that Black is achieving equality with this move, it looks like he is getting desperate. Looks can be deceiving and Garingo lets down his guard.


This move is intimidating, but weak and I sniffed out a response that solves all my opening problems and probably leaves me with a slight pull. Again 16.fe or 16.Qh4 are consistent. What Black needs to see to solve this position is that with the knight on e3, White is unable to recapture on f4 with the bishop, I had been waiting to initiate this exchange and now is the time:

16...ef! 17.Rf4 d5!

And d5 comes with tempo on the rook, this just couldn't be wrong! I felt very good about my position until:


I overlooked this response, I thought White had to address the threat of d4 winning a piece but Nd5 attacking the queen allows White to continue without losing a piece and he may even be better after the move d4. So now I had to come up with something...


This is an interesting move to say the least. The tactics in this position are a little bit ridiculous. The Bishop on d3 that I didn't trade is menacingly looking down on the h7 pawn now that the e pawn is free to roam. This is what caused me to reject 18...dxe4!, which turns out to be safe after 19.Ne4 Ne4 20.Be4 h6. h6 is such a simple move, but it was hard to see in the midst of all the complications, also I felt like this was the kind of position that he wanted, the attack goes on.

After Qh4 I sunk into a deep think and decided that the most important feature of the position was that the Q and R were vulnerable on their squares, if for instance I could get a knight to g6 this would be strong, but Ne5-g6 doesn't accomplish anything since after 18...Ne5 19.ed Ng6 White just wins a piece by 20.Bg6 and 21.de6.

But there's another way to fork these pieces, albeit ugly and awkward, g5! So Qe5 threatens g5 when Black will beat back the White pieces and also removing the Queen from c7 threatens d4 which would win a piece. So there are two threats, this is always good right?

19.exd5 g5!

It worked!! There is a good alternative for White that does not allow this. 19.Nf5, returning the knight to f5 was suggested by Nathaniel immediately after the game and leads to a very double-edged game with chances for both sides. This move addresses both threats, it removes the knight from the fork and blocks the queen from defense of g5.

Here's an interesting line: 19.Nf5 de 20.Ne4 Ne4 21.Re4 Qf6! I suggested this as the way to play for Black and it equalizes but the game remains wild: 22.Bg5! Qb2 with chances for both sides, here's how it looks:

Back to the game:

20.Ng4?? This move loses on the spot.

White still had a way to keep himself in the game. Nathaniel, like me, is the kind of player who feels the advantage and at the point where he realizes he may not be in control he panics and oftentimes this is where he makes his weakest moves. If you have seen our last two games (here and here) there is additional support for this statement. So the way to stay in the game is:

20.Nc4! Qf4 21.Bf4 gh 22.de fe when Black is up the exchange, but there is still a chess game to play:

20...Bg4 21.Qg3 forced, if White takes the Bishop he gets mated on e1. 21...gf 22.Bf4 Qh5 23.h3 Kh8 0-1

I step out of the pin and save the bishop, leaving me up a rook and a knight for two pawns, White resigns.

So now I have two systems against e4, although they are both Sicilians. I don't think I'll play the Najdorf at the Far West Open in two weeks but you never know. I certainly had a good showing in this game.

By the way let me know what you think of the format, I'm just so tired of the little chesspublisher window.



Speaking Up For Those Who Can't

By drunknknite

Recently wang berated chess engines and databases. So I'm going to go ahead and play Devil's Advocate. First of all because I am a former debater and future lawyer and I love writing arguments. Secondly because I am someone who uses chess engines and databases very frequently and I believe they are very valuable to a chess player when used responsibly. So I feel it is my duty to defend these helpless machines...

I'm going to take a very structured approach to supporting the opposing side so it would probably be helpful to familiarize yourself with wang's post before continuing.

To give you a road map I'm going to start by answering wang's points on learning openings, then I'm going to move on to his points on game analysis.

1. This has nothing to do with computers. I am currently looking at a 280 page book on the Sicilian Sozin (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cd 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 is the start then White plays 6.Bc4 against either 5...a6 or 5...Nc6). I am reading this book with a board, no computer, just going through it. It's still the same thing, copious diagrams and annotations and GM games and evaluations at the end of lines.

2. Turn: Computers actually make the learning process easier in the opening. The process of learning an opening is discussed in many sources but the overwhelming opinion is that the best way to learn an opening is to familiarize yourself with as many games in that opening as possible and then to play 'training' games where you practice the ideas you learned in friendly competition. I have many databases that start from a position and contain roughly 30-50 games from that position and by going through them I learn where to put my pieces, typical attacks and defenses, typical pawn structures, typical endgames, these things come in handy when you are ready to actually try the line out because you know what you are looking at. As far as the practicing component, this is something I usually do in blitz games on ICC, but a lot of people use chess engines for this component showing that the database engine tandem can be very helpful in learning openings.

I have been where you are, overwhelmed by GM evaluations and not understanding where they get their notations from or why they choose specific lines, but by familiarizing yourself with the games and ideas in a particular variation you will start to see why certain evaluations are given and why the GM takes things for granted. Whether you use a computer or a book and a board you still need to put in the time.

On to game analysis:

I concede the point that allowing Fritz to annotate your game without attempting to annotate it yourself is a lost cause and a waste of time, but allow me to salvage some dignity for the machine.

1. Fritz is a BRILLIANT resource. It can and will find ideas that you overlooked in your game, every game for that matter. The fact that you are not able to play certain variations because they are too hard does not mean that you should not familiarize yourself with the ideas of those variations. If it is a tournament game and you spent 4-5 hours thinking about the position, you should be familiar with the nuances in the game and Fritz will show you how they get exploited.

2. Just because you could mess up a position is not a reason to reject the evaluation. We all make mistakes. The evaluation of the game inevitably fluctuates during a game. However, the goal should be to achieve positions that are easier for you and more difficult for your opponent. If you are winning, you have to do less to win than your opponent, that's the definition of a +/=. They are not instant wins, your opponent may even be able to hold on with 20 moves of Fritz play, but you have an easier game.

3. Fritz helps. In the commentary to your post BDK mentions that he is tired of seeing 'Fritz says' in the analysis to a game. I include this line constantly in my analysis so let me explain why. First of all, I do not want to take credit for the ideas that Fritz comes up with, so that's the only reason it is included. I include these ideas because they are important to the understanding of the overall game. I don't add all the lines Fritz spits out or irrelevant moves just because Fritz says it's better. I add lines that COMPLEMENT my analysis. A lot of times there are variations that I avoided or my opponent avoided that are too complex for me to solve on my own. But Fritz can help give me some guidance and 'together', 'we' can work it out. I'll give it a line that it didn't 'see' and after going through some of the variations it will fill in the gaps and confirm my feeling about the position. And sometimes it will give me lines I don't see and help me reject continuations that I found promising. If Fritz hasn't found a one pawn blunder in your games in 6 months you are simply not giving it enough time.

4. It all comes down to work. After Fritz spits out moves I try to put it's ideas into words. You will often see long explanations of positions in my analysis. This is me taking Fritz's += or =+ and trying to give an explanation of the key elements of the position. Working to understand why the computer feels the way it does about this position. Attempting to further my chess understanding by using Fritz as a guide. And if I disagree with Fritz, I have the opportunity to prove it by following it's analysis and offering my own suggestions, which either exposes where I am flawed in my thinking, or exposes that Fritz overestimated or underestimated certain elements of the position. If I had a top-level GM that would sit with me and go through games and give me lines and analysis I would use him the same way, but I think it would cost a lot more.

I'll conclude this point by saying that I recently hired a coach and he asked for a sample of my games so I sent him my ChessBase database where I created the games before they get put into Chess Publisher. I gave him all my analysis. He said "You analyze games like a GM."

So although I understand your frustration with people's reliance on computers, it seems to stem from people who use computers as a shortcut. There are no shortcuts to learning, you must put in the work to see results. And all I can say is that computers allow you not only to keep your work organized, but also to check your work. This is helpful indeed.



Careless and Sloppy

By drunknknite

I didn't play last week cause I wasn't really feeling well and there were only three people that weren't participating in the other tournament. Then Thursday I got paired with George Fischer again. With the White pieces, again. The same pairing I had two weeks ago. I wanted to play a nice game, really find a rhythm and some good moves. That didn't happen. I played ok and I found some strong ideas, but I made a lot of mistakes. My execution was extremely poor. Probably due to the fact that I was not putting that much effort into the game. I spent 30 minutes on the first 30 moves (the time control is 30/90 G/1); then 20 minutes on the rest of the game, although that phase was routine. George got into his regular time trouble and made time with 6 seconds on his clock. Then used almost all of his remaining hour in a position that was absolutely hopeless.

I hardly deserved to win that game. I play better than that. Rocky's post on flow a little while ago I think best explains the phenomenon that is my chess. When my opponent is pushing me and I have to keep finding good moves to win I am able to find my zone and get it done, but when my opponent is making mistakes I get lazy and I cannot focus enough attention on the matter at hand. It's like when a sports team starts running away with the game and then gets lazy. I just assume the mistakes are going to keep coming and that this is going to be extremely easy. I have an attitude problem.

I also got really annoyed at the fact that he kept playing after I started pushing the queenside pawns. I can understand him playing until I start making progress on the queenside but once I have consolidated my position and I am starting to roll forward there's no hope for Black. And he just sat there spending so much time, I wasn't even at the board, I would come back make a move and go back to watching other games. I actually strongly considered blindfolding myself just to make it interesting, I wonder if Ernie would have allowed that.

On the topic of blindfolding myself, I was thinking maybe if I try to find a move without looking at the board and then look at the board for a stronger idea I might be able to slow down and put more effort into my moves. I think this also relates to my last post. More to come.